The popular iPod shuffle has been updated today with new text-to-speech voiceover technology in a reduced size. It's really cool except for one thing: It moves all controls to the headphones. Updated.
I like the idea of having controls on my headset's cable. I use that feature every time with my iPhone. However, I've used every single iPod, iPod mini, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle ever made—advantages of being a journalist and getting evaluation units—and every one of the Apple headphones that came with them have been a failure. Invariably, I had to replace them with other earbuds.
I'm not talking about the sound quality, which has improved since the awful first generation—now it's still not good or amazing, but acceptable. I'm talking about them literally failing on me, one after the other.
I don't mistreat my gadgets and the iPod/iPhone's headphones have been no exception. Invariably, however, they all have finished in the dumpster after a few months. Whether it was failing neodymium-schmdynium drivers making popping noises or breaking cables, every one of them have proved to be too flimsy, too fragile for continuous daily use.
I'm sure that there will be plenty of third-party headsets options for the new tiny iPod, so it won't be a problem to replace them. However, it still will suck to have the headphones rendering your shuffle useless until you get new ones.
On top of that, most probably the new replacement headphones will be more expensive than any regular ones, since they have to include extra electronics and they will be perceived as "special" by the market. And then, their variety will also be limited. Sure, you don't need huge DJ-quality headphones for the shuffle, but what about if you want an specific kind of in-ear earbuds?
Click to viewStill, we don't know how the new headphones are. Hopefully, Apple put extra care in making their earbuds more durable than previous models. Maybe not to last for as long as the shuffle itself, but for more than the three to six months lifetime I've experienced. [New iPod shuffle]
Update: We have talked with Apple and they said that they will sell an adapter for third-party headphones—which solves the issue about picking any headphones, even if it is for an added cost.